Berehove, Czechoslovakia (now Ukraine)

Eight of the Boys came from Berehove, a town in the region of Subcarpathian Rus, in eastern Czechoslovakia.

The city has many different variations of spelling its name: Romanian: Berehovo, Hunagrian: Beregszasz, Russian: Beregovo, Czech and Slovak: Berehovo, Yiddish: Beregsaz, German: Bergsaß and Polish: Bereg Saski.

Berehove is situated in the region known historically as Subcarpathian Ruthenia, now south-western Ukraine. It is about 30 kilometres south of Mukachevo, near the border with Hungary. Other nearby towns home to many of the Boys include Uzhorod, Khust, Irshava, and Svaljus.

Until the end of World War I, Berehove belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire. During the period between the two World Wars it was part of Czechoslovakia. In the course of World War II it was occupied by Hungary. At the end of the war it became part of the Ukrainian republic of U.S.S.R.


The first Jews arrived in Berehove mainly from Poland during the 18th century, and the town was known then as Beregszasz. They lived on the estates of the nobles of the House of Schoenborn.

In 1768, when Jews first arrived, there were four Jewish families living in Berehove; by 1830 there were 200 Jews living in the city.  By 1838 the Jews living in Berehove had established an organized community. The majority of Jews in the city spoke Hungarian, while many also spoke Yiddish and German.

The first rabbi was Rabbi Yitzchok Rochlitz. From 1930 until 1944, when the community was liquidated by the Nazis, the rabbi was Abraham Solomon Hirsch.

The city had a Jewish school as well as a number of small yeshivas. During the 1930s a Hebrew school was founded.

On the eve of the Holocaust in 1941, Berehove was home to almost 6,000 Jews out of a population of 19,000. Some worked in agriculture, trade and crafts. Others owned factories, flour mills and banks, worked in agriculture and were doctors, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists or public officials.


Following the Munich Agreement in 1938, Czechoslovakia was divided up and Hungary annexed Berehove and the surrounding region. The town was renamed Beregszasz in Hungarian.

The Hungarians were pro-German, and imposed laws restricting Jewish access to education, trade, and the professions. The Jews in Beregszasz had their business licenses taken away, and five hundred males were conscripted into the Hungarian army, where many perished on the eastern front.

In August 1941, many Jewish families who could not prove their Hungarian citizenship were expelled to Kamenets-Podolski in Nazi occupied Ukraine, where they were murdered.


In 1944, the Nazis invaded Hungary and occupied the Subcarpathian Rus. Jewish ghettos were set up in towns such as Munkacs, Uzghorod, Chust, Velka Selvjus and Berehove.

In May 1944, around 3,600 Jews from Beregszasz as well as others from the surrounding area were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp in occupied Poland.

When the trains arrived in Birkenau, a selection was made on the ramp. It offered healthy young men and women a chance of survival as they were often selected for slave labour.

An estimated 85% of the Jews of Subcarpathian Ruthenia perished in the Holocaust.

The fact that the Beregszasz was one of the last ghettos to be liquidated by the Nazis, meaning the Subcarpathian Jews arrived six months before the camp was liberated in January 1945, greatly increased their chance of survival.


In the autumn of 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered liberated the town.

After the Second World War, the Carpathians were annexed to the Soviet Union in 1945. Beregszasz became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and was renamed Berehove.

After the war, survivors attempted to restore the community. However, they met with a hostile reception from the city's inhabitants. When they returned home, most of the survivors found that their home’s were occupied by strangers.

Most of Berehove’s Jews were either very religious and or Zionists. It was not possible to practice religious observance under Stalinism and Zionist politics could lead to arrest.

These reasons prompted Jewish survivors to leave the Carpathians, many emigrating to Israel and the West.


In 1970, an estimated 300 Jewish families were living in Berehove. It is likely that many of them left during the 1990s.

As the town is so close to the Hungarian border, all of the clocks in Berehove are set to Hungarian time (1 hour behind the Ukraine) and Hungarian is the prevailing language.

The current population is about 24,000 and it is not known whether any Jews live there today.

Posted in .